Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Apex court allows EC to pose three questions in voters' suit

    Published     Updated
The challenge mounted by three Hulu Selangor voters on the Election Commission’s (EC) recent redelineation exercise will take longer than expected, as the Federal Court allowed the commission to pose three questions of law.

The three voters – P Maradeveran, Zahar Rusuli, and Yong Chan Hee – found themselves part of the Kuala Kubu Bharu state constituency after the EC’s redelineation exercise, having previously been registered in Batang Kali.

They filed suit in October last year, claiming that the EC had exceeded its powers under Section 7(2) of the Elections Act 1958 by shifting voters across state constituency boundaries without their knowledge.

A three-member bench, led by Justice Ahmad Ma'arop, said it unanimously allowed leave to the EC and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for the questions be posed, including one on an ouster clause regarding Section 9A of the Elections Act 1958.

“We are unanimous in our decision, we feel there are question of law needed for further argument regarding the general principle,” Ahmad said.

The same bench had earlier dismissed former Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan’s challenge of an ouster clause in the Immigration Act 1959/63, after she was not granted leave to challenge her Sabah travel ban.

In the Hulu Selangor voters' case, the three questions allowed to be posed by the EC and AGC, led by senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh, were:

1. Whether the decision of the EC reflected in the Federal Gazette PU (B) 197 dated April 29, 2016, and incorporated in the current electoral roll dated May 13, 2016, is rendered non-justiciable by virtue of Section 9A of the Elections Act 1958,

2. Whether the time runs from the date of publication in the Federal Gazette of a certified electoral roll as provided for under the Elections Act 1958, for the purpose of making an application under Order 53 rule 3(5) Rules of Court 2012, and

3. Whether the publication of a gazette constitutes sufficient communication of the decision of a public authority to the affected person under Order 53 Rules of Court 2012.

Section 9A of the Elections Act states that once an electoral roll has been certified, and notice of the certification has been published in the gazette, it shall be not be questioned, appealed against, reviewed, quashed, or set aside by any court.
 
In January, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed an application for judicial review brought by Maradeveran, Zahar, and Yong against the EC, which was subsequently overturned by the Court of Appeals.
The Appeals Court ruled that the voters were not out of time in filing the judicial review application, as it is based on the date the letter the EC sent on Aug 3, 2016, informing them of the move to Kuala Kubu Bharu, and not the earlier gazette dated April 29.

Gobind Singh Deo, appearing for the voters, said that since there is an ouster clause in Section 9A, and that the court had earlier dismissed Ambiga’s challenge to an ouster clause, the hearing should proceed to the High Court.

With this, the apex court will decide whether the judicial review can be made based on the April 29 gazette or the Aug 3 letter, as voters are allowed three months to challenge the electoral roll.

~ Malaysiakini

Rhetoric on MA63 misses the real issue

    Published     Updated

COMMENT | The continuing rhetoric and polemics on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) in Borneo, with an occasional response from Putrajaya, misses the real issue in Sabah and Sarawak: decolonisation.

Bingkor assemblyperson Jeffrey Kitingan, a longtime Borneo rights advocate, has called for a new MA63, where Sabah and Sarawak will be equal partners with Malaya in the Federation of Malaysia.

This doesn't quite jell with the definition of "Federation" in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution. The "Federation" is defined in the article as that based on the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957. It reinforces the Federation of Malaya Independence Agreement 1948.

On July 13, 1976, Article 1 (2) of the Federal Constitution was amended to read that Sabah and Sarawak would be states, the 12th and 13th, in the Malayan Federation, now known as Malaysia.

The Malaysian government takes the position that this was in compliance with MA63. Earlier, before Jeffrey called for a new MA63, he had based his politics on claims that the federal government of Malaysia had been in non-compliance on MA63.

On Sept 11, 1963, the government of Malaya told the Supreme Court that "the Federation of Malaya would continue after Sept 16, 1963." It was facing a lawsuit by the government of Kelantan on Malaysia.

Matters have not been made any easier by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak pledging on Malaysia Day that his administration would restore the rights of Sabah and Sarawak under MA63.

The late Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem also called for the autonomous status of Sabah and Sarawak, as it existed on Sept 16, 1963, to be restored.

Najib, in response, had offered to devolve greater administrative powers to Sabah and Sarawak.

The prime minister explained that such devolution would mean weeding out duplication of state and federal departments. Federal departments would be transferred to locals or the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak.

Since Adenan's passage, there has been no news from Putrajaya, or the Sarawak government, on the proposed administrative devolution.
 
Again, the crux of the issue is decolonisation. It could be argued that the entry of Sabah and Sarawak into the Federation of Malaysia was one form of self-determination.
This would be true, of course, if it was the intention of the people of Sabah and Sarawak that their homelands merge with the existing states in Malaya.

However, there's no such intention on record.

MA63 itself speaks of Sabah and Sarawak, and Singapore as well, federating with the existing states in Malaya.

In Singapore, there was a "yes/no" vote, on the eve of Malaysia Day, on the merger with Malaya.

Singapore's predominantly Chinese population was one reason the departing British dragged Sabah and Sarawak, Orang Asal homelands, into the federation with Malaya.

Singapore was happy to be in Malaysia because of its economic strength and the greater prospects in a customs union and common market.

The British also wanted to shed their defence burden in Singapore and Borneo, and to place their commercial empire in Singapore, Malaya and Borneo under one administration in Kuala Lumpur.

There are parallels in Borneo, with Indonesia's occupation of East Timor for 27 years, and Israel's continuing occupation of the West Bank.

If Palestine can be accorded observer status at the UN General Assembly, Sabah and Sarawak should be accorded the same right.

Sabah and Sarawak should also be admitted to international bodies. Palestine has been accorded this right.

The UN Security Council should, at the same time, work on the decolonisation of Sabah and Sarawak. They were not given self-government or independence before Malaysia. Singapore had self-government before Sept 16, 1963.

Decolonisation would be the way forward for these poverty-stricken states in Borneo. It's the colonial nature of the relationship between Putrajaya and Sabah, Sarawak, that keeps Sabah and Sarawak at the bottom of the dung heap.

Brunei stayed out of Malaysia at the 11th hour, Singapore was given independence in 1965. Both these nations are now are light years ahead of Sabah and Sarawak.

The UN Security Council can help avoid a Rohingya-style problem developing in Sabah. The illegal immigrants should be given an identity, but not a Sabah identity.
 
At present, many of them apparently hold "Malay" MyKads. These are clearly fraudulent documents, given the definition of "Malay" in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution.
Malay is a term confined to Singapore and Malaya and governed by Merdeka, Aug 31, 1957, the cutoff date for that status.

JOE FERNANDEZ, a longtime Borneo rights watcher, is a freelance journalist who was once Sabah correspondent for Malaysiakini.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.
 
~ Malaysiakini

Opposition fails to capitalise on discontent among the youth

    Published     Updated

Canadian court unseals case on Taib-linked company

Published     Updated

A Canadian superior court has ruled that a money-laundering case involving a company linked to Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud will be heard in public, according to Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF).

In a statement, BMF said the case it filed in July to gain access to the financial records of Ottowa-based Sakto Corporation and its affiliated companies was originally sealed, before the Ontario Superior Court lifted the order.

BMF claims that the Taib family had channelled millions of ringgit in allegedly illicit money into the company.

Sakto was co-founded and is chaired by Taib's daughter Jamilah, whose husband Sean Murray (the couple below) is the company president. The company mainly deals in property development.

 
BMF is suing the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Manulife Financial Corporation and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to compel them to disclose beneficial ownership information and records of the alleged flow of funds from Malaysia into Sakto.
BMF is hoping to use that information to pursue private prosecution against Sakto. Malaysiakini has contacted the offices of Sakto and Taib for their response.
 
In March, a BMF report presented in the Canadian Parliament claimed that the Taib family channelled at least Canadian $69.8 million (RM232 million) to the Sakto group of companies.
The report noted that Taib, the former Sarawak chief minister, had said in an interview that he provided Jamilah an undisclosed amount of money to start her business in Ottawa.

He claimed that the money was from gratuity he received upon resigning from the federal government in 1981.

The report also cited a 2014 letter by Murray to the Toronto Star, in which Murray revealed that the company's shareholders were Jamilah and three other family members, including Taib's brother Onn 
Mahmud.

However, Murray in the letter denied that Taib was involved in the company.

~ Malaysiakini

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Lawyer: Absence of key witnesses setback to forex probe

 | September 19, 2017

Ex-BNM governor Jaffar Hussein and auditor-general Ishak Tadin could have given evidence if a timely investigation was conducted, says Gurdial Singh Nijar.
Gurdial-Singh-Nijar--1

PUTRAJAYA: The failure to have two key witnesses give evidence is a major setback in the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s (RCI) attempt to investigate forex losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) about 25 years ago, a lawyer said.

Gurdial Singh Nijar said this event was a grim reminder that the authorities should conduct a probe as soon as a fiasco was discovered as the facts were fresh in the minds of witnesses.

Gurdial, who represented Anwar Ibrahim at the RCI hearing, said former BNM governor Jaffar Hussein and ex-auditor-general Ishak Tadin were two important witnesses to unravel the events then.

“However, Jaffar had passed away while Ishak is incompetent to give evidence due to his medical condition,” he told reporters.

RCI chairman Mohd Sidek Hassan had earlier declared the proceedings concluded without hearing the testimony of Ishak, who was supposed to be the last witness.

Ishak’s son Rizal said his father, who was auditor-general between 1986 and 1994, could not testify due to memory loss.

He said his father’s memory and thinking skills had been impaired and he would not be able to remember key events relevant to the inquiry.

“My father started having cognitive impairment sometime in 2007. As a result, he is unable to recall,” he said.

Jaffar, who was governor from 1986 to 1994, resigned from office after taking responsibility for the loss and passed away in 1998.

Gurdial said the outcome of the RCI would be handicapped as many facts of the case could not be verified through the two personalities.

“There is a huge gap in the chain of evidence. For example, we do not know about the communication between Jaffar and Anwar who was then the finance minister,” said Gurdial who appeared at the hearing together with Sivarasa Rasiah.

Gurdial said he was perplexed why Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed now agreed to have the RCI on the forex losses, although he had rejected it in 1993 when he was the deputy finance minister.

Meanwhile, Sivarasa said the RCI proceedings were unfair as lawyers appearing for concerned parties were not given key documents.

“How are we going to prepare a detailed submission for the RCI’s consideration when we were denied material facts in the documents?” he asked.

Sivarasa predicted Anwar would be among those who would be held responsible in the report.

“We cannot contest any unfair findings of the RCI as its recommendations cannot be set aside in a judicial proceeding,” he said.

Sivarasa, who is PKR’s Subang MP, said they would use the public sphere to challenge the report.
Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the RCI was set up with a political motive.

“This RCI is a waste of time and public resources to deliberate on an event that took place about 25 years ago,” he said.

Haniff, who represented former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said blame would be apportioned to Anwar and former BNM assistant governor Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

He said BNM, as an autonomous body, ventured into forex activities to manage its external reserves and to stabilise the ringgit.

The losses, he said, were suffered as a result of an attempt to protect the ringgit from rogue currency speculators.

“It is not a case of someone who stole money for personal gain,” he said.

~ Free Malaysia Today

A farce of an RCI is over


The Malaysian Insight
A farce of an RCI is over
Hearsay and so-called evidence with crater-sized holes were accorded inordinate importance in the Bank Negara Malaysia forex losses royal commission of inquiry. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 19, 2017.
THE farce is over. The most amateurish inquiry in the history of Malaysia, held with the sole purpose of scoring political points, is done.

The royal commission of inquiry into Bank Negara Malaysia's forex losses nearly 30 years ago finally wrapped up its proceedings today, having questioned 25 witnesses and studied 42 documents on the losses.

May we never see the likes of this sham again. It was chaired by someone who should be remembered with only disdain.

Mohd Sidek Hassan ended his civil service career as chief secretary to the government and went on to become Petronas chairman, but his conduct did not display any of that.

He made conclusions early on, refused to retract his remarks and questioned the witnesses in an adversarial manner, to the consternation and chagrin of all present.

Was this an inquiry or a full trial, one wonders.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad put it succinctly when he thought out loud what the RCI's purpose was: not a probe into the forex losses, but to make him look bad.

"It is about finding a way to make me look bad in the eyes of the public. That during my time, money was also stolen," he had told reporters in Putrajaya.

It was an inquiry so lacking in documentary evidence, it was shocking. It was just based on what people said, and there was no interest in recalling them when there were contradicting testimonies.

From day one, this RCI appeared to be a probe to connect the dots and nail Dr Mahathir, Daim Zainuddin or others who have become enemies of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

 Hearsay and so-called evidence with crater-sized holes have been accorded inordinate importance. Conclusions were made publicly early on, and not retracted.

No wonder, then, that right-thinking Malaysians stopped following the RCI. The stench of the farce was too strong to bear. It was not so much an inquiry, but a barely disguised inquisition and prosecution to taint critics.

It did not quite work out that way, though. It just added to the shameful sham piling up in Putrajaya. – September 19, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Monday, September 18, 2017

S'gor reps deny possible defections, coup


Published     Updated



PAS and PKR elected representatives in Selangor have dismissed the speculation that the state government could be hit with defections.

This comes in the wake of certain quarters claiming that a coup could take place in Selangor similar to the one which led to the collapse of the opposition government in Perak in 2009.

PAS vice-president Iskandar Samad claimed it would be impossible for Umno to attract assemblypersons from Selangor, including those from PAS.

The senior state exco member said PAS is committed to fulfilling the mandate given by the people to develop Selangor since the 2008 general election.

“I don't see this (defections) happening because the state government is functioning well,” he was quoted as saying by SelangorKini.

Meanwhile, PKR's Selangor exco Daroyah Alwi denied there is a possibility of a backdoor power grab taking place in Selangor.

She said the assemblypersons' support for Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali remains strong.

“Of course, we remain with the principle of PKR's struggle.

“Whatever the threats or disturbances, we remain steadfast in the struggle of Anwar Ibrahim, led by (PKR president) Dr Wan Azizah (Wan Ismail).

“And in Selangor with Azmin. We will not be divided on this,” she told Antarapos.
Another state exco, PKR's Amirudin Shari claimed that the speculation of a coup is an attempt to divert attention from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's press conference yesterday.
He claimed that the press conference became a “laughing stock.”

There had been high anticipation of a major announcement at the press conference yesterday, as top Umno leaders throughout the country were summoned to Kuala Lumpur.

However, when the announcement turned out to be that former Selangor menteri besar Muhammad Muhammad Taib was returning to Umno, the opposition began to joke about the anti-climatic outcome.

This led to speculation that Najib was to announce defections of state assemblypersons in Selangor, but had to settle for Muhammad after it failed to materialise at the last minute.

~Malaysiakini

BARU BIAN’S MALAYSIA DAY MESSAGE 2017


GIVE MEANING TO MALAYSIA DAY

When I was a schoolboy, 16 September was celebrated on a large scale in Ba’ Kelalan but for some reason, it was called Hari IbuBapa. However, the celebrations stopped in the 70’s until we restarted them in 2012.

I remember during the years 1967-1969, many people came from Sabah and Indonesia to join us and take part in the activities. This was a reciprocal event with Long Bawan in Indonesia. The people of Ba’ Kelalan would cross over to Long Bawan on 17 August each year to join in their Hari Augustus (which is their Merdeka day), and on 16 September, the people of Long Bawan would trek over to Ba’ Kelalan to join in our merrymaking.

Our fellow Lun Bawangs from Long Pa’ Sia in Sabah would do the same. I remember it used to take 1 or 1.5 days to walk between Long Pa’ Sia and Long Semadoh, but in those days, the people just took it in their stride.

When we reinstated the 16 September celebrations in 2012, the people of Long Pa’ Sia came with a strong team, which won the cross-country race to Puneng Trusan and back.

This year, villagers from Long Pa’ Sia and 6 villages in Indonesia will be converging in Long Sukang from 14-17 September. Activities planned include football, volleyball, sepak takraw, and cultural events including bamboo band performances, choir competitions and a parade.

This 16 September celebration in Ba’ Kelalan is significant for us as to my knowledge, no other constituency in Malaysia organises and carries out the Malaysia Day celebrations on their own initiative. The Lun Bawangs regarded 16 September 1963 as an important day as it was the day when all Malaysians welcomed the promise of a brighter future for this new federation of Malaysia.

Since the 2010 recognition by the federal government of 16 September as Malaysia Day, many Sarawakians are beginning to take an interest in learning about how Malaysia was formed, and the part played by the Borneo Territories of North Borneo and Sarawak.

With this growing interest, we must do our part in correcting the wrong information that Malaysians had been fed for many years that the Independence Day of Malaysia was 31 August 1957, when it was in fact the Independence Day of Malaya. Sarawak and Sabah (North Borneo then) became equal partners with Malaya and Singapore in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.

Because of this awareness, it is observed by many that fewer Sarawakians are displaying the Jalur Gemilang on 31 August, instead, choosing to do it on 16 September each year. It is important that we acknowledge our actual history and honour it, instead of buying into a manufactured story. Understanding our history helps to unite us in our common identity as Sarawakians, and gives us a clearer sense of the purpose of our forefathers. It is imperative that every one of us understands why they agreed to the formation of Malaysia, what the factors were at play, at what transpired at the negotiations, which culminated in the signing of the Malaysia Agreement. Without understanding history, it is impossible to chart a clear course for Sarawak, as was intended by our ancestors.

On Malaysia Day, it is also timely to remind our Federal and State leaders of the representations and undertakings to Sabah and Sarawak by the Malayan leaders which have remained unfulfilled more than 50 years after the agreement was signed, particularly the promise that we should be elevated to the same level of development as Malaya, as said by Tunku Abdul Rahman: that one of the principal objectives was to further the economic development of the Borneo Territories so that their standards of living and technical skills might be raised, and a firm basis provided for accelerated economic growth, … so that the gap between a relatively backward state and the advanced would be narrowed and not widened.

 It is timely that our State leaders be reminded to continue pursuing what is due to us and keep pushing for the unfulfilled promised to be kept. Although our present leaders have made some moves in this regard, we hope that their discussions are not just rhetoric but sincere attempts to get the federal government to give to us what should be ours.

For our Pakatan Harapan leaders, we believe that the promises made to Sabah and Sarawak in the manifesto will be fulfilled in good time if PH should win the next elections. Our leaders have indicated their seriousness and resolve to ensure that what our forefathers had agreed upon and hoped for will be fulfilled within our lifetime. This is my dream, that I will live to see our rights finally being respected.

Malaysia was built on a foundation that is our Federal Constitution, which established the social contract amongst the various peoples of Malaysia. In Professor Shad Faruqi’s words, the Federal Constitution reflected the ‘consciousness of the social, economic, political and ethnic realities of the Malay peninsula’ (and later Sabah and Sarawak). The Federal Constitution recognises that there was a place for everyone in Malaysia.

However over the past few decades, particularly after 1969, race and religion had been used to undermine the social contract. The actions of the UMNO/BN government to entrench the special position of Islam and the Malays, the institutionalised racism via the NEP, the playing on Ketuanan Melayu or Malay supremacy, the setting up of various Islamic bodies such as JAKIM with generous funding, attempts by various groups and bodies to ‘support transformation to a theocratic state’ (in Prof Shad’s words) etc have caused deep polarisation between the Muslims and non-Muslims.

The religious freedom of non-Malays is continually being eroded, highlighted in the Lina Joy case where policy considerations were held to be stronger than law. Since that case, there have been many instances of unilateral conversions, body-snatching, resistance/refusal to allow conversions out of Islam, all of which have rendered the freedom of religion guarantee in the Federal Constitution illusory.

Recently, the fiasco with the RUU355 hudud bill and the removal of s 88A of the bill to amend the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) to stop the unilateral conversion of minor children point very clearly to the undeniable fact that the UMNO/BN led government is playing politics with religion, placing no consideration to the rights of non-Muslims. All that matters to them is a win at any cost.

In Sarawak, we are observing the events with distaste with alarm. At the same time, we are asking for our rightful share of our resources and development. In every aspect of progress, we are lagging behind – be it infrastructure, healthcare, educational facilities, economic development, etc, we are at least 20 years behind.

In the face of these challenges, we must have some hope for Malaysia. There are people and groups who are working hard to bring about a change of government so that we can install a government that puts the rights of the people as paramount, upholds the guarantees given in the Federal Constitution, and administers the country with accountability transparency and competency.

In the meantime, we reiterate our call for the State leaders to continue defending and restoring our rights, and to get a better deal for Sarawak. Our national and state political leaders and the judiciary need to focus on the legal and constitutional aspects of issues instead of allowing for other factors to take precedence. The executive arm of government must not pass laws that violate the understanding that was established between the various peoples of Malaysia in the form of the social contract that is the Federal Constitution.

We continue to celebrate Malaysia Day in Ba’ Kelalan constituency, and I am proud that we maintain the spirit of unity among all races and ethnic groups here. We must never lose this spirit of togetherness, which is so much a defining characteristic of our people.

Let us continue to work and pray for a better Malaysia, as envisioned by our forefathers. The commemoration of Malaysia Day will only become truly meaningful if we can fulfil the hopes and aspirations they had in their hearts when they made the decision to become equal partners in the federation to be called Malaysia. Imagine the pride and joy we will feel on that day when we can say that we have made their dreams, and ours, come true. Although it may appear to be a mammoth task, nothing is impossible, and I hope that in the near future, we will be able to honour this day, and the departed ones who made it happen, in a truly joyful, exuberant and jubilant celebration.

God Bless us all, and God Bless Malaysia.

Baru Bian
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan / Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak
14 September 2017



SIMON SIAH: PRS YOUTH USING DUD AMMO IN TARGET PRACTICE


PRESS STATEMENT
14 SEPTEMBER 2017

PRS Information Chief Andy Lawrence should try to employ some logic in the attempted defence of his party chief, otherwise he is merely shooting blank bullets, leaving him and his boss no better off than when they started.

Baru Bian had reason to criticise the Jiwa Murni road. He has seen the roads for himself, and he was also quoting from the Auditor General’s Report 2016, which is a public document. The AG had said that the roads were badly built, and the safety aspects were less than satisfactory. If the AG had seen the roads in Ba’ Kelalan, he would have been even more critical. The objective of the government was to provide road connectivity, which is met when the roads are in mint condition. Once the roads have become impassable, after a few months or a year at the most (in the case of Ba’ Kelalan and Marudi) the objective has failed. Why should the government continue to pay money for projects that have failed to meet their objectives?

Suggesting that the government should repair the roads is well and good, but Andy should know that infrastructure is in the federal list, and the oft-heard reply to such requests is that there is no budget from the federal government for repairs, and this has been said by Minister Michael Manyin in the DUN in reply to Baru Bian’s queries.

To then suggest that the Selangor government should pay for our roads shows that Andy Lawrence has little understanding of the concept of federalism. All states and Sabah and Sarawak contribute taxes to the federal coffers, and the federal government is supposed to allocate funds to them according to their needs, in the national budget.

If he had bothered to do just superficial research, Andy would know that Selangor and Penang contribute the most tax per capita, but have received next to nil allocations from the federal government. In April this year, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said that in 2013, Penang only received 0.07 per cent and Selangor 0.31 per cent of the federal budget from Putrajaya. Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah was reported to have said that the federal government blocked all funding to Selangor after the federal Opposition took over the state in 2008.

Not only that, in March this year, the federal government stopped federal funding of even the small small-scale infrastructure projects at the local council level, in Selangor constituencies outside of BN control.

This sabotage by the BN/UMNO government is to punish the people of Selangor and the voters of the opposition, and also because of lack of funds due to the mismanagement and misappropriation of our funds by the PM and his BN/UMNO government, with which Andy and his boss seem to be proud to be associated.

Due to the neglect by the federal government, Selangor and Penang have to depend on their own funds for their own expenditures and projects. Why should they subsidise development in Sarawak, a fixed deposit of the BN? Andy should question his loyalty and that of his party to the BN coalition instead of simply shooting without applying his mind or logic to the bigger picture.

Simon Siah
Deputy AMK Youth Chief, KEADILAN Sarawak

BARU BIAN: BUILDING JIWA MURNI ROADS PENNY WISE POUND FOOLISH


PRESS STATEMENT
9 SEPTEMBER 2017

I refer to DCM James Masing’s statement in the Malaysian Insight on 7 September that the government will stick to providing Jiwa Murni standard roads despite their poor quality and short durability. Frankly, I am surprised that he would make such a decision as the roads can only be used for a short period of time before they disintegrate and become reduced to muddy trenches, which are impassable by ordinary cars. Even off-road vehicles often get bogged down in the mud, as evidenced by the many pictures published by the papers in recent years.

DCM Masing said that what is important to the state government is to make as many rural villages accessible as possible in the shortest possible time and to create connectivity. Take for example the Long Luping-Ba’ Kelalan stretch – it was built for RM57mil as a Jiwa Murni project some time ago but it is now as good as having no road.

It is not accurate to say that the damage is done by heavily laden vehicles such as timber trucks. There are no heavy vehicles using some of the roads in Ba’ Kelalan, but they have also deteriorated to appalling conditions nevertheless.

The Auditor General’s report 2016 heavily criticised the Jiwa Murni roads, and I quoted part of the report in DUN in June last year:

Quality of work was less satisfactory. Road shoulders and drains were not built… There were potholes, uneven and muddy road surfaces. Road maintenance was less satisfactory... Besides faded road lines, there were untrimmed wild plants and grasses along road shoulders… safety of the roads built were “less satisfactory” as they were steep and winding, with “no slope protection.”

DCM James Masing in his response defended the Jiwa Murni projects by saying the Auditor General had found in their 3-month audit that the roads in Kapit, Miri and Limbang had met the objectives in providing road connectivity and reducing travel time. If they had extended their audit to Lawas/Ba’ Kelalan, they would have seen, in addition to their findings of the badly built roads and unsatisfactory safety aspects, that the conditions of the roads or muddy tracks meant that connectivity was as good as lost, and that the Jiwa Murni roads are not a cost effective way of providing road connectivity.

Given that the Jiwa Murni roads have not lasted very long, it would appear that the government has been penny wise but pound foolish in the decision to allow the roads to be built in this manner by the Army. Once the roads are handed over, JKR is responsible for the maintenance but we are constantly being told that there are limited or no funds for repairs. This is what Minister Michael Manyin said in December 2015 in the DUN: ‘… there is no real allocation given to us from the Federal Government…’ DCM James Masing said the same thing, as reported in the Malaysian Insight, ie he ‘said the Ba’ Kelalan road would be repaired but did not say when as the road is federally funded.’

It is obvious to all that once the JWP roads become impassable mud tracks and with no repairs forthcoming, the objectives of the government have failed. I am glad that YB Dennis Ngau agrees with my views on the roads. In the case of the Long Luping –Ba’ Kelalan road, if the government and timber company can build it to a R1 road for RM36 mil (as reported in the press in July 2017), that would better serve the people of the area. Sadly, it appears that the government is determined to keep providing cheap substandard roads that do not meet the needs of the people. DCM James Masing should make a trip to personally inspect the roads in Ba’ Kelalan – and see for himself the ‘connectivity’ that is as good as non-existent.

Baru Bian
ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan


Thursday, September 7, 2017

'Body language of Johoreans signals wave of change'

    Published     Updated
Johor has always been known as a bastion for BN but recent developments in the state have undoubtedly changed this.

Following Jorak assemblyperson Shahruddin Salleh’s departure from Umno to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in October last year, BN, for the very first time, lost its two-thirds majority in the Johor legislative assembly.

Citing the time spent thus far with constituents in the state, Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said he could "feel the warm approach."

“I can see their body language, how they approach us nowadays, (it’s) more welcoming.

“Based on my experience in politics, I can feel the signs of change this time around,” the Johor Amanah adviser told Malaysiakini in an interview.

In the last general election, out of the 56 state seats, BN had won 38 while the then Pakatan Rakyat coalition only managed to win 18 seats.
Salahuddin attributed the change to the concept of “only diamond can cut diamond,” citing Pakatan Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well as Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin (photo), who still wields significant influence in the state.

“With Pakatan Harapan in the frame, coupled with the split in Umno, it has made it easier for us to convince Malays on important issues, such as 1MDB and the goods and services tax (GST).

“But I concur with (PKR vice-president) Rafizi Ramli that the 1MDB issue is not so effective in rural areas, for the people are more concerned about the GST. People in the villages have experienced how the cost of living has indeed risen,” he said.

Confident of support for Harapan
Salahuddin, who has been focusing his time in Johor for the past one year, is confident of the support Harapan will receive in the forthcoming general election.

“I’m confident that we can get more than 50 percent of support as we don’t need such a big majority. To win in Johor, it’s enough for us to get a simple majority for there to be a change in the state,” he said.

Unlike in the past, Harapan is now able to penetrate traditional villages and Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlements – areas considered as the last bastion for BN, Salahuddin claimed.

Citing Tanjung Piai, a place the Amanah leader was born in, Salahuddin described how each house in the area had once somewhat represented the strength of Umno throughout the country.

“In the last general election, I could do a head count, for every house in which there were five or six voters, we would not be able to get their votes.

“But today, from seven or eight voters in a household, I am confident that we can get the support of four or five people,” he said.

Some have branded this as a “Malay tsunami” of sorts, but Salahuddin prefers to call it the “Malay silent wave.”

“The Johor Malays are cultured, they do not show their opposition, they are very polite, and now I can see how more welcoming they are,” he said.

Free education and affordable housing
So what has Harapan been doing in Johor to secure the support of voters in the state?

With non-Malay voters, Salahuddin is confident of their support, citing the reception received during various fundraising dinners thus far.

"With the standing ovation when leaders arrive, I can conclude that we can maintain the support of non-Muslims for Harapan. So we have to attend their programmes and provide Harapan’s offerings for Johoreans."

With Malay voters, Salahuddin admitted that a more careful and wise approach needed to be utilised to get near to them.

Small-scale programmes such as visits to villages, he said, had given “such a big impact.”

“Even though the turnout may be between 200 to 300 people only, the programmes have been attended by locals.

“When we have small programmes like these, those who previously did not turn up are now braver to get themselves involved in such programmes,” he said.

Among the offerings, Johor Harapan plans to promise to the people of Johor are free education and affordable housing.

Johor Harapan, said Salahuddin, is in the midst of studying ways to increase wages and offering incentives to small and medium enterprises.
 
Pointing to the thousands who cross the Johor-Singapore Causeway daily to work even in 3D (dirty, difficult and dangerous) sectors, he said this was proof that Malaysians were not entirely opposed to taking 3D jobs.

“These are some of the big offerings Johor Harapan will offer to the rakyat once we are given the mandate to take over the state administration.”

With Harapan looking set to give BN a run for its money, reports have emerged that Salahuddin himself is one of Harapan’s candidates for the coveted menteri besar post.

However, with Muhyiddin who once served as menteri besar of Johor in the picture, Salahuddin might have to concede to Muhyiddin leading the state.

But Salahuddin claimed that he simply “does not care” about the post, for the only important thing is how Johor Harapan can convince its target group.

“Just imagine Salahuddin Ayub becoming a cry baby, every day asking for the post. What kind of qualities am I sharing with Johoreans?
 
“I'm actually very happy. If given the choice, I actually prefer to stay in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Sharing his vision for Johor, Salahuddin expressed hope that it would be the best example of how a Harapan state administers itself.

“The most important thing is how Harapan provides a pool of leaders. There is no single, towering leader.

“We have a pool of leaders and we need each other to contribute to our success,” he said.

~ Malaysiakini

Saturday, August 19, 2017

BARU BIAN: HDC SUIT AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXAMINE AUDITOR GENERAL’S REPORT IN DETAIL


PRESS STATEMENT
19 AUGUST 2017

One of the flats in PermyJaya which was said to have been painted last year
I refer to the statement by the Chairman of the Housing Development Corporation that they are likely to take legal action against me for allegedly distorting the facts of the AG’s Report 2016, thereby ‘aggravated the image of HDC’. I fully welcome this novel initiative by the Chairman, as the trial will provide full opportunity for all parties to delve deeply into the facts of the matter and examine in full the details of the unsatisfactory findings of the AG in the Report. We may be presented with the chance to request for better and further particulars of each instance of unsatisfactory finding.

Our Miri MP Dr Michael Teo and Wanita deputy chief Voon Shiak Ni had made numerous site visits to the flats in Miri mentioned in the report for which RM2.88 mil was paid for painting and repairing works found not executed, or carried out defectively or not done in accordance with the requirements of the job scope. The flats are in bad condition and some parts are even cracking up and chipping off. There are real problems on the ground and the Chairman should direct his energy towards rectifying these and improving oversight rather than threatening the opposition with legal action.

Interestingly, it was reported today that the MACC had arrested 2 HDC staff in connection with the failure to carry out the painting job. Obviously, the MACC must have had reason to believe that the HDC was implicated in this impropriety, otherwise they would not have carried out these arrests. Therefore, the Chairman is jumping the gun to protest the HDC’s innocence. On our part, we welcome the investigations by the MACC and stand ready to assist in every way possible.

The HDC’s challenge on firstly, the AG’s Report, and now, the MACC’s investigation, is an eye opener on the Housing Commission’s defiance of the statutory duties of the institutions clothed with the power to check on accountability and integrity of public spending, abuse and misuse of power and corrupt practices by the public authorities.

At the press conference on 3 August 2017, the findings of the AG that I pointed out had had also been highlighted by the media. The other items found to be unsatisfactory can be seen in pages xvi-xviii and 94-125 of the AG’s Report. I would request the MACC, if they have not already commenced doing so, to investigate every other item of unsatisfactory performance that is documented in this report, including but not limited to:

i.        No prior approval of the State Financial Secretary obtained for exemption from established financial procedures for several transactions;
ii.       An advance payment of RM16.80 million for Package 1 and Package 2 of the Jalan Utama upgrading project in Sibu without authorisation, resulting in the government incurring interest charges of RM1.77 million;
iii.       Payments amounting to RM33.40 million were made by HDC to suppliers without being verified by an authorised officer: supplier invoices for 3 progress payments amounting to RM10.33 million were not original but were unacknowledged copies; 4 progress payments amounting to RM2.30million not supported by suppliers invoices from the contractor; six payment vouchers amounting to RM20.77 million were also not supported by payment certificates.
(See pg xvii of the Auditor General’s Report)

In particular, with respect to the painting job paid for but not carried out or carried out insufficiently at RPR PermyJaya mentioned above, it was found that the performance of several items specified in the contract were unsatisfactory, ie:
i.          Jet-spray cleaning of external walls, posts and beams not carried out;
ii.         Repainting of cracks on external wall not carried out;
iii.       Applying one coat of primer and 2 coats of weather resistant finish on the rainwater drainage pipes and service pipes: no pipes installed for rain water drainage;
iv.        Replacement of sewerage, waste and vent pipes not carried out;
v.        Applying one coat of primer and 2 coats of weather resistant finish to outer walls, pillars, beams and walls: thin uneven paint applied. Walls on ground floor and parts of first floor staircase not painted;
vi.    Replacement of timber roof fascia and painting thereof: no replacement done, just painting of rotten/broken fascia boards.
(See Table 5.18 at pg 117 of the Auditor General’s Report)

We urge the MACC to investigate fully all these findings and bring those responsible to account if there is evidence of wrongdoing, especially since this involves a large sum of taxpayers’ money.

It is rather disingenuous of the Chairman to suggest, in the context of this threatened suit, that the HDC is merely in charge of opening tenders to contractors and disclaiming any responsibility for the highlighted shortcomings, and at the same time assuring the MACC and the public that the HDC is committed to upholding transparency and accountability, and pledging to assist the MACC in their investigations. Perhaps at the board meeting of the HDC, the board should obtain sound legal advice on the consequences of breach of statutory duties, misfeasance and breach of fiduciary duties before they make any decision. It would be best if their attempts at damage control be directed at their internal procedures and controls rather than at shooting the opposition for merely highlighting their shortcomings as revealed by the Auditor General.

The Chairman doth protest too much, methinks.

Baru Bian
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81’ Ba’ Kelalan